Destructive new virus hosed hard drives, or Dell issue?
by Syz - 8/27/04 5:57 PM
Does anybody have information about a possible virus/worm/trojan that renders a system inoperable, or Dell hard drive issues?
Thursday, August 19, my boss' home-based Hewlett Packard pc (Probably running Windows XP) apparently picked up a virus when his daughter opened an email with an attachment. The system had Norton Antivirus software installed. The computer responded to the opening of the email with a blue screen having nothing but DOS-text error warnings and proceedures to follow to recover from some kind of system error. Upon following the instructions, the computer refused to boot up. Powering down and powering on only resulted in a black screen with a blinking cursor and a request for the administrative password. Boss called HP tech support, who after walking him through things to try, finally told him it was a virus and it had changed his administrative password. There was no getting past the initial boot screen - no getting to DOS, no way to reinstall or reformat. They told him there was nothing they could do. Computer is currently sitting useless.
Wednesday, August 25, three identical brand-new Dell Optiplex 280 computers that had been preinstalled with Windows XP Pro arrived at our office.
Thursday, August 26, we enlisted the help of two local technicians to unbox and set up the three new Dells. All installations and transfer of data went well, and all three computers were successfully integrated into the local network and shareable. The technicians set up the email accounts and began downloading email via DSL around 4:30pm. Norton Antivirus had not yet been installed. They failed to set the email prefs to not auto-open emails in the preview panes. We prefer to have to choose and double-click to open email, to help prevent accidental opening of attachments and virus contaminated email. More than 3,000 old emails downloaded from our webmaster's server, and many of these auto-opened as they were viewed just before closing time at 5pm. No errors occured at that time.
Friday, August 27, during the morning meeting, Boss related his story about his hosed Hewlett Packard PC at home. Nobody thought that much about it, until the people with the brand-new Dells returned to their desks. One of the brand-new Dells was displaying the exact same blue screen with error text as Boss' home Hewlett Packard. He said to not touch anything and start making calls. Upon waking Dell #2 from sleep mode, it displayed a gray error dialog box on the desktop, with the simple warning "Hard disk error..." It was then discovered that some programs would not launch properly. Then the blue screen with the same text-only error messages as Dell #1 spontaneously displayed on the screen. Dell #3, in another room, had not been used to download email the day before. It remained unaffected. Four other computers (three Systemax and a Mac G4) in various rooms remained unaffected. All computers were on the same network.
Upon discovery of the error screens, Dell #1 and Dell #2 were physically disconnected from the network.
Upon calling Dell tech support, and spending approx 5 hours on the phone with them, nothing they had us try would work to bring the two Dells back to life, either by physically manipulating things inside the case, or trying to reinstall the system. We walked through every trick the Dell techs could think of. They even walked us through a factory-style reformat and install. And when that failed, said, "This isn't normal." Apparently, the hard drives on both brand-new-out-of-box Dells were unrecoverable. Dell admitted they had 80 operators inundated with calls that day from other users complaining of the same problem. Currently, the two affected Dells are in their boxes awaiting shipment back to Dell.
The Optiplex is a newly released machine, we were told. My question is, are we dealing with a hard drive failure recall issue, or a new and very destructive virus issue? If this is a virus issue, as seems possible due to the same kind of hard drive failures on three different machines of two different manufacturers in the same week, why is there no information on the internet about it? If this is a case of bad hardware, it's Dell's problem. If it's a killer virus, it's everybody's problem.